The Game of Life

The Real Sunday Game
Epiphany 27

Football, Faith, and Fortune

A teacher once told her children that they could use profanity, just as long as they wrote an essay about the word or words before using it. “You should know your vocabulary,” she stated. “Write about the word’s etymology or history, where it came from, and why it is considered to be profane.” Needless to say, her children waited until they had their own abodes before expanding their language skills to include cursing.

Eighteen years later, the same teacher, now retired, was watching a television movie with one of her children when a cell phone advertisement appeared. “That is so silly,” remarked the child. “Why?” queried the mother. “James Earl Jones has a voice like black velvet or maybe rich ebony silk. Malcolm McDowell could read the menu at McDonald’s and make it sound like Shakespeare. I loved it.” “Were you listening?” continued the child. “They were talking like teenagers!” The mother had to admit she really was too enthralled with the actors to even notice what company they were representing.

A few weeks passed and again the two were watching a program on television. Suddenly the same advertisement appeared and this time the mother paid strict attention. “Oh, how cute!” she exclaimed. “Rather like a modern-day Dr Seuss. Totes McGrotes!” The child disdainfully glared at the mother and then offered a piece of cake. “Thank you, dear,” said the mother. “This is …Totes McGrotes!” She reached for another bite when the plate was snatched out of her hand. “You may not use that type of vocabulary, young lady,” admonished the child, “until you have written an essay on what it means, where it came from, and then maybe you will understand why it is so silly!”

The circle of life is complete! With the curiosity that characterizes most teachers, the parent did indeed study the new wordings. She learned that Totes McGrotes meant “totally the best”, also spelled McGoats, having originated in a 2009 movie starring Paul Rudd. Totes Adorbs was someone who was totally adorable and Totes Presh was used to describe something totally precious. A gossip Internet columnist claimed “amazeballs” to be his own but actually fashion blogger Spiridakis used it several years earlier as an updated form of pig-Latin.

This weekend we will witness why parents are urged to know what their children are saying and to what music they are listening and singing. On Super Bowl Sunday weekend advertisers will pay $150,000 per second to air promotions for their products. A thirty second spot for Super Bowl 2015 will cost over four million dollars. Such advertising costs prove that every second of airtime not only has value – $150,000 value – but can make an impact. Regardless of who wins the game, the take-away from this event should be the power of the spoken word. After all, no one pays over four million dollars to be ignored!

On any given Sunday approximately 450,000 sermons are given. They are not be promoting something to make your life easier or make you look better. They discuss living fuller, feeling better about one’s self, and discussing perhaps a revered deity who will always think you are “Totes McGrotes”, regardless of what you do.

If costing the same as a Super Bowl ad, those sermons, based upon a twenty minute homily, would value $180,000,000. That’s one hundred and eighty million dollars. Men and women have paid paid for the lessons in those sermons and the teachings of other faiths and spiritualities with their lives. Because they thought mankind was “Totes Presh”. Without having to run a single yard, these people score the ultimate winning goal for each of us, thereby making us “Totes Adorbs”, and exchanging their lives for ours. Amazeballs!

What if we listened to those 450,000 sermons as intently as we will those thirty-second advertisements? What if a person’s life of faith was as widely followed as the Super Bowl? What if each church or charity received an audience of the 164.1 million that watched Super Bowl XLVII in 2013? There are usually thirty minutes of advertisements during a regular Super Bowl. If we substituted those advertisements for a sermon and the churches got paid, the joint religious and charitable community would receive, based on the current pricing, $81,000,000,000,000 or eighty-one billion dollars. Of course, churches and soup kitchens are not prepared for a total audience of 164.1 million but perhaps for an annual budget of almost $81 billion, they could expand. If each church used their 180 million dollars for nine outreach opportunities and kept only one-tenth for their own operating costs, each would receive 18 million dollars. Imagine what good could be accomplished with that!

The second largest church in the United States of America is a Baptist church in Houston, Texas. With twenty-four thousand members, they have an annual operating budget of fifty-four million dollars. That translates to each member giving two thousand, two hundred and fifty dollars annually. Sounds like a lot but it is actually only five percent of the average income for a Houston, TX family. What if each person in Houston had an epiphany to donate five percent towards humanitarian or charitable causes?

Sundays usually find Americans attending their respective houses or temples of worship, some having attended Fridays and Saturdays, and then many will settle in to watch American football. The same is often true in other countries for other sporting events. A diverse group of people, most of who have immigrated from somewhere else at some point in time, united in the thrill of the game.

This evening our retired teacher will not begin embarrassing her adult children with her new-found vocabulary and religious organizations and humanitarian agencies will not be millions of dollars richer. While a winner will be declared in the match between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots and other soccer, polo, and sporting competitions, little will be done to encourage the continued interest of the world on one subject – peace and basic human rights for all. People will return to their daily habits and forget that, for a few moments in time, we could be united peacefully even while on opposing teams.

The millions spent on advertising for the Forty-Ninth Super Bowl most likely will not be matched with contributions to either religious organizations or charity. Still, the super sacrifices and game-winning plays of the faithful, those selfless individuals who think each of us is “Totes Presh”, totally precious now and forever more, are priceless. The average person under the age of sixty-five spends more than the five percent mentioned above in dining out and alcohol. What if we all had a bright idea to give that five percent to charitable agencies and outreach missions? By recognizing the epiphany of our connectedness and the interdependence of mankind and nature and devoting both our resources and personal energies, we just might win the biggest game of all – life. Amazeballs!

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